What Might We Learn From North Korea’s Nuclear Test Site?

Kim Jong Un announced that he would close North Korea’s nuclear test site. The Trump administration has greeted this announcement as part of its success in dealing with North Korea.

But North Korea may be doing less than Trump thinks. Read More

The DOE Announces Plans For Pit Production

The Department of Energy has been contemplating the future production of nuclear weapon pits – the fissile part of the weapon, usually plutonium. Rocky Flats, between Golden and Boulder, Colorado, used to do it, but it turned into an environmental disaster. All buildings have been removed from the site.

Los Alamos and Savannah River are the only two DOE sites that can work with plutonium. Both put themselves into the running for the task. Both have had some problems with safely handling the stuff, for example. The decision was announced today. Both were, in effect, selected. Read More

Too Much Information

Do you wear a Fitbit?

If you do, satellites may be watching you.

Yesterday, Strava, a social network that collects data from devices with GPS, uploaded a heat map of its users around the world to the internet. Intelligence services are now combing that map for data about hidden military bases and other tidbits. It’s apparently not just fitbits, but mobile phones and a lot of other devices.

The Guardian gives a few examples. A few more after the jump. Read More

PSA: Potassium Iodide

I see that, with Donald Trump’s threats of nuclear war, sales of potassium iodide are up.

A couple of reminders.

Potassium iodide protects your thyroid from absorbing radioactive iodine, which is one of the fission products that would be spread around in a nuclear war. But it’s only one, and potassium iodide doesn’t protect against the large number of others, which go to other parts of your body. It also doesn’t protect against the radiation from a blast.

Taking potassium iodide can disrupt your physiology, so don’t take it unless the bombs go off. If you want to stockpile it just in case, go ahead, but treat it as medicine and keep it away from kids and pets. Put it in your survival gear, if you have something like that.

And I don’t think we’re going to have a nuclear war. Trump seems to be spinning down from that and moving on to disrupting North America’s economy by pulling out of NAFTA. He’s got a short attention span.

 

Cross-posted to Balloon Juice.

Links – December 17, 2017

I don’t usually link to big news stories, thinking you’ve probably already seen them, but if you haven’t read this Washington Post story about Donald Trump’s feelings about Russian interference in the 2016 election, you are missing something. The article is framed around Trump’s unwillingness to accept the idea that his win might have had any other factors than his great charisma. I can see why the authors and editors might have done this to preserve some unity in a very complex story, but it is hard to believe that Trump’s ego is the only factor in play.

The secret history of the Russian consulate in San Francisco. Top photo of the roof of the consulate, with its multiple antennas. Read More

Sillamäe Again

Here’s a light but crabby post for a Saturday. Fits my mood.

I’ve spent a fair bit of time in Sillamäe, Estonia, and more thinking about it. So when a publication screws up the facts, I feel a need to respond.

This time, it’s Atlas Obscura doing a remarkable job of stuffing errors into a short article. Read More

Undermining The Iran Nuclear Deal

With President Donald Trump’s loud declaration of disdain for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the nuclear deal arrived at with Iran by six nations plus the European Union, the opponents of the deal are newly energized. They have resurrected all their old arguments, plus a few more.

Although the agreement severely limits the amounts of materials needed to make a bomb and places heavy inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on the facilities that Iran used to taunt the international community with its nuclear know-how, the opponents of the deal insist that it will be no time at all before Iran surprises us with a bomb. They make this argument without bothering to specify how that might happen. Read More